What Are the Signs of Infertility?
It may seem like an odd question, wondering if there are actual signs of infertility. After all, it’s a pretty safe bet that if a couple are having regular, unprotected sex for many months without a resultant pregnancy, then this should be a pretty obvious sign in of itself. However, many couples realize that they simply cannot be having as much sexual activity as they would like, and that it does take several details to be all aligned at the same time in order for conception to take place. They may wonder if they perhaps are just victims of circumstance or if medical intervention is really necessary. If this sounds like you, then let’s take a moment to discuss the true signs of infertility, and if you find that any of these are present in your case, you can be sure to mention them to your doctor during that appointment.
Amenorrhea is the term used to describe when a woman does not have menstrual periods when she should. Women normally do not menstruate before puberty, during pregnancy, and after menopause. At other times, she should have regular menstrual cycles every month; if she doesn’t, this may be a sign of infertility or another treatable medical condition, however, there are some conditions that cause this cessation of periods that may also cause infertility.
Amenorrhea can be caused by any number of changes in the organs, glands, and hormones involved in menstruation. Possible causes include:
Failure of the ovaries (female sex organs that hold eggs).
Problems in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) or the pituitary gland (a gland in the brain that makes hormones involved in menstruation).
Poorly formed reproductive organs.
Hormonal imbalance due to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
In these cases, amenorrhea may be a sign of infertility in the woman.
A miscarriage is the loss (death) of a baby before the 20th week of pregnancy. According to the March of Dimes, as many as 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage – most often before a woman misses a menstrual period or even knows she is pregnant. About 15% of recognized pregnancies will end in a miscarriage. Miscarriage itself is not necessarily a sign of infertility, however, if miscarriages happen because of difficulties with a woman’s reproductive system, then the two may be related.
Other signs of infertility.
An OB/GYN may look for other causes for a woman’s difficulty in conceiving, including endometriosis, a condition in which the tissue lining the uterus (the endometrium) is found outside of the uterus, pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection caused by bacteria that starts in the uterus and can spread to other reproductive organs, stenosis (narrowing) of the cervix, the lower part of the uterus (the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a baby grows), often caused by scarring, and tumors (also called “fibroids”), or growths on the inner wall of the uterus. All of these can also be considered signs of infertility that would necessitate medical intervention.